When Life Falls to Pieces, Answers Lie in the Space Between After a month-long dance tour through Italy, 20-year-old Leni Drago returns to Georgia to care for her great-uncle, only to find him gone, the home they shared empty and any evidence he ever existed wiped out. All that’s left is a journal she can’t open.
Jeric Winters has been searching for a piece of his past for over a year, only to reach a dead-end in Georgia. When an urgent and magnetic pull draws him out of his hotel room, he comes face-to-face with the beautiful dancer who’s been haunting his dreams day and night.
Jeric’s one to stay away from—a bad-boy, hit-it-and-quit-it type—but Leni can’t escape the fervent feelings between them. As their own existences begin to crumble around them and shadowy forms that are more monsters than men attack, they realize there’s more to the connection between them than physical fascination.
To solve the riddle their lives have become, they must embark on a journey that requires them to face their pasts and release their true souls. And they must do it fast—dark ones from another world are closing in, intent on killing them. Permanently.
LENI – The overhead lights fell dark for the last time as I opened the dressing room door. The back exit stood open at the end of the hall, allowing in enough light from the streetlamp outside to show my way. I inhaled slowly, cherishing the musty smell of an old theater mixed with the odor of dancers’ sweat and the fragrance of white roses. I silently said my goodbyes as my feet carried me outside.
“Thank you, Uncle Theo,” I whispered as I left the theater for the last time. Only because of him did I even have this opportunity. I couldn’t wait to tell him all about it.
A large, muscular body flew at me, swept me into his arms and twirled me around as though we were still on stage. Laughter bubbled out of my chest.
“You ready to celebrate, cara mia?” Alberto asked as he set me down.
“Celebrate that you’re finally getting rid of me?” I teased.
He clapped his hand over his heart, and his face fell into an exaggerated expression of pain. “Oh, Leni, you do not know how I will miss you and your mane.”
He swatted playfully at the bottom of my curls. He had no idea how I would miss the way he said my name, drawing out both syllables, “laaaay-kneee,” like only an Italian could do.
“But you won’t miss my heels on your toes or my arm in your face?” I said in mock disbelief.
He took my hand and danced me down the cobbled street toward the plaza at the center of town. “You are a stunning dancer, cara mia. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” He spun me under his arm, my duffle bag banging me in the butt the whole time. “Of course, you have become much better since becoming my partner. But everyone does.”
He winked at me before dropping me into a dip. My bag slid off my shoulder and a hand darted beneath me to catch it. Alberto swung me up and around so that I came face-to-face with the most unbelievably stunning vision I’d seen my whole time in Italy. Which was saying a lot. His eyes—blue, I thought, though the light from the corner post wasn’t enough to be sure—enraptured me. He held my bag out with a small smile that hinted at dimples.
“Grazie,” I said breathlessly as I wrapped my hand around the strap of my bag. He gave me a nod almost deep enough to be a bow, his shaggy blond hair falling in his face. Then, without a word, he turned and walked away. My mouth fell open. “How rude.”
“Must be American,” Alberto said. I punched him in the arm.
“Who goes out of their way to catch a falling object and then can’t even say ‘you’re welcome’?” I asked absent-mindedly as I stared after the retreating body that rivaled Alberto’s. No, scratch that. It totally beat out Alberto’s even on his best day.
“What an ass,” Alberto muttered.
“Rude, yes, but I don’t know if I’d go that far.”
“No, I mean what an ass that man has.” He let out a low whistle.
I laughed and admired the view as well. “I can agree with that.”
“He’s going to Alonzo’s. Lucky us.”
~ ~ ~
JERIC – I flipped to the picture I’d drawn a couple of weeks ago during my search in Italy. I’d woken from a dream, one I’d been having for years, and as I had previously, I’d felt the need to sketch the girl who had me waking with a painful boner. Now that I’d met her in real life, I couldn’t deny the girl in my sketches was Leni—curly hair, exotic green eyes, full lips and breasts, her skin … as if the absolute best features of both African and European blood had been blended together and given to her. The Leni I’d just met would probably never wear the leather bra, miniskirt, and knee-high boots I’d drawn her in, but damn if she wouldn’t look hot in them. The vision came to me clearly. Too clearly. I had to place the book over my lap to hide the full-blown wood pressing against my jeans.
I needed a distraction. I needed to get her out of my head. I bought several little airline bottles of rum and dumped them in my Coke, but they weren’t enough to blur the image of Leni’s face in my mind. When the smoking hot flight attendant ran her finger over my arm then dropped a napkin with a message on my tray (“Meet me upstairs?”), I couldn’t resist. I snuck up the spiral staircase to the empty upper level and found her in the bathroom wearing nothing but heels and thigh-high stockings, tendrils of bottle-bleached hair barely hiding her fake tits. Flight attendants like this had made me a lifetime member of the mile-high club—they wanted nothing more than something to make the transatlantic flight more interesting. My perfect kind of girl.
Unfortunately, my eyes only saw Leni’s body under my hands.